Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin


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Dissertation Defense - Chunbi Jiang


Wednesday, April 20, 2016


08:30am -


CPE 2.236


Title: Pore Structure Characterization of Shale at the Micro- and Macro-scale

Supervisor: Hugh Daigle

Co-Supervisor: Steven L. Bryant


Pore structures within two Barnett shale samples in microscale and macroscale were constructed based on the conventional techniques (mercury intrusion capillary pressure (MICP), nitrogen sorption, and helium porosimetry). Measurements were performed on both bulk samples (core 2 and core 6) and organic matter isolated from bulk samples. Pore size distributions obtained from both core 2 and core 6 contain a large volume of micropores, while pore size distributions obtained from isolated organic matter do not, indicating that organic matter-associated pores are mesopores and most of micropores are within matrix. Organic matter-associated pore volume of core 2 is about 22% of the total pore volume, and the organic matter-associated pore volume of core 6 is about 41% of the total pore volume. A bundle of short conduits model with constraints can explain the measured nitrogen desorption isotherm on organic matter, and this model was used to represent the microscale pore structure within organic matter. Fragment size effect was observed on both MICP curves and nitrogen sorption isotherms measured on Barnett bulk sample: smaller fragment size results in larger mercury intrusion or nitrogen gas sorption. Fragment size effect does not appear on helium porosity measurement on bulk samples.

A multiscale pore structure consisting of connected clusters of organic particles was constructed. The clusters have a characteristic length that controls the accessibility of the pore system, and the clusters are superimposed upon a background of intergranular voids not associated with organic matter. Within the individual organic particles, the pore structure consists of discrete, short pore conduits. The concept of characteristic length of the connected clusters can explain the fragment size effect, and the pore system can be fully accessible if the fragment size is close to this characteristic length. The modeled characteristic lengths for both core 2 and core 6 are in micrometer range. By assuming pore structure within organic matter is dead end and does not contribute to throughgoing fluid transport, and the connection between each individual cluster is below the resolution of probe fluid, the permeability of the pore structure in micrometer scale is in 0.01nanodarcy range.